ICCA Special Award eligibility

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Postby Amanda Newman » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:48 am

Our formal policy is that judges may give out special awards in only four categories:

arrangement
solo
vocal percussion
choreography

These awards are meant to recognize the "outstanding," not "best."

There are NO other additional awards. However, although the judges and producers are given that instruction, they sometimes forget or get excited about giving recognition, and decide to make their own rules :)

As such, the "extra" special award was not recorded on our website. As far as Varsity Vocals policy is concerned, it was a slip through a crack. We won't revoke the award, but it is not considered official.

I apologize for the confusion this may cause. Please keep in mind that all our producers and judges contribute their time on a volunteer basis, and with events only running three months out of the year (and judges perhaps only participating one or two days a year), we can only do our best to strive for consistency.
Last edited by Amanda Newman on Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Amanda Newman » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:59 am

As far as membership for special awards:

Current or former members of a group are eligible for special awards. We ask groups only to submit names of contributors who are current or former members of a group.

I, too, prefer to see existing members of a group earning accolades while they are standing on stage - but the reality is that many groups are getting help from their alumni, in the form of old arrangements or old choreography. Those arrangers and choreographers were student members of the group when they made that contribution.

We might consider not allowing former members of groups to be eligible for those awards -- but I fear it would just contribute to deception (ie, changing names of arrangers or choreographers to current members of the group).

But if there is group that performs what is clearly an amazing arrangement or amazing choreography, but does not receive the award bc they were not eligible because the arranger/choreographer has graduated from the group, it is just confusing to the audience as to why that was not recognized by the judges, leading to lots of questions and frustration and accusatory emails in my inbox.

I suppose the solution to either of those problems, then, would be that, in cases where an alum has choreographed or arranged, we would acknowledge the GROUP as the winner of the choreography or arrangement award. But that's kind of sad for the person who should have won the award.

No good solution.
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Postby chirojoel » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:16 am

Amanda Newman wrote:...many groups are getting help from their alumni, in the form of old arrangements or old choreography. Those arrangers and choreographers were student members of the group when they made that contribution.

Frankly, I love that part -- I think that any work done by a member of the group while they were a member of the group should absolutely be recognized and eligible for the special awards. My concern only comes when an alumnus of a group generates fresh new material that didn't exist when they were members, or when someone who was never a member (or even someone labeled an "honorary member" but who has never performed with the group) does so. Also, I would put school faculty who don't perform with the group in the same category.

You're probably right about there not being a good solution. If it's already there in the rules (and I believe you when you say it is), then some groups are ignoring the rules - but those are the groups earning the awards and therefore groups nobody wants to tick off by singling them out and scolding them. (We LIKE seeing quality on the contest stage! =) ) The only option I see is to make sure that particular rule is being stressed to the groups via the producers, but that makes everybody involved look and feel like a bad guy, from the groups to the producers all the way up to you.

I'm not sure there is a way to fix it - it's just something that's bothered me several times in the last decade.
Joel Levitz, a cappella fan
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Postby Amanda Newman » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:25 am

chirojoel wrote:My concern only comes when an alumnus of a group generates fresh new material that didn't exist when they were members, or when someone who was never a member (or even someone labeled an "honorary member" but who has never performed with the group) does so. Also, I would put school faculty who don't perform with the group in the same category.


That is a concern for me, too. Faculty and never-members are not eligible for special awards. This is the formal policy, and we tell competing groups that only current and former members of the group are eligible. But, we are left with the information that the groups provide us, and there's not a lot we can do, from a practical standpoint, to police this kind of thing in advance of the shows.

If an award is given out to a faculty/never-member, chances are we don't realize it. In those cases, please let us know, and we wont post the award. From what I have seen and heard, though, this doesn't happen a lot. But you starting this thread suggests otherwise, so maybe my production team and I are in the dark.
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Postby Anthogna » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:56 pm

This can be kind of a tricky area, since there's no good way to avoid dishonesty without disadvantaging honesty in certain cases. The VV policies leave these awards to the subjective discretion of the judges, so anything can happen, with certain bounds, which should be revisited whenever it is deemed necessary based on community feedback (like this thread).

As it pertains to eligibility for Arrangement and Choreo/Staging, I think the "fair" answer is different for each award.

Outstanding Arrangement
It's quite common that a member of a group will create an arrangement while they are in the group. I would say that any arrangement that was created by a member while they were in the group is eligible. The potential exists here for a group lying on their rep sheet, of course. VV can cross-check the current roster, but I really don't think they have the resources to cross-check former rosters. Faculty advisors/directors would be ineligible, however. In the event that an eligible outstanding arrangement can not be found, and an ineligible one exists (assuming it's not by a well-known professional arranger,) the judges might be encouraged to issue a commendation - sort of a "if this HAD been eligible, it probably would have clinched it" which would provide the groups with some useful feedback (esp. at the HS level) in this regard.

ETA: If a former member becomes a professional arranger, it turns into a matter of whether or not the arrangement was done, in that form, during their tenure with the group - the difference between new and prior art. Honor system, unfortunately, though I'd hope if the judges had any doubt as to the eligibility, they'd just skip over it.


Outstanding Choreography
This should go to current members or the whole group exclusively. While it is conceivable that the choreographer(s) may be one or more former members, the original plan would need to be adapted (even in conjunction with the alumni choreographers) to suit the group as it stands on the day of the competition.

But, of course, there's no way to easily screen out situations that involve dishonesty. Only thing VV can do is respond to allegations of dishonesty on a case-by-case basis, and then the burden of proof has to be with the person issuing the allegations.

Nothing's perfect, of course. There will always be people who take offense to how VV runs their shows and governs the judging procedure. Such is the burden of success in being the most recognized competitive stage for scholastic a cappella. They can choose to take the feedback or leave it, because in the end, they still set the status quo. :)
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Re: ICCA Special Award eligibility

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